Writer: Graham Yost
Director: Ross K. Bagwell, Jr.
Original air date: October 5, 1990
We’re back down to the normal running time with this episode. Huh.
In the cold open, Mr. Ernst is meeting with an insurance guy, Mr. Griggs. Mr. Griggs chastises Mr. Ernst for waiting until the last minute to renew his insurance premium (which is up at 5:00 PM today).
Mr. Griggs is played by Johnny Greenwood. “Hey Dude” was his final of three acting gigs in a very sporadic career that started with a film role in 1973, which was followed by a role in an episode of a French(!) TV series in 1981. He also appeared as himself in an episode of “Della” as far back as 1970. This seems very odd, which makes me question IMDb’s info.
Mr. Ernst’s lame-ass excuse is he thought all of the notices that they’d sent out were from Ed McMahon (of the American Family Publishers sweepstakes). Dumbass. How the fuck do you make a mistake like that? Repeatedly?
Mr. Ernst is upset at the huge increase in the Bar None’s premiums. Mr. Griggs is all matter-of-fact about it.
Jake interrupts to ask Mr. Ernst if he could use the lodge for Mondo Courage, his new workshop on how to conquer your fears. Mr. Ernst gives him permission.
Mr. Ernst and Mr. Griggs discuss the increase, which comes down to the threat of litigation. Mr. Ernst also mentions nothing bad has happened “all year”, which is more evidence that this is a later summer than the beginning of the series, since Danny was in an accident on Bar None property in “Pain in the Neck” (season 1, episode 13).
Mr. Griggs points out a woman swinging by Mr. Ernst’s window (hilariously, after he tells Mr. Ernst that “all risk must be minimized”). This is Mrs. Parker. Mr. Ernst does that sitcom trope where he initially doesn’t think anything strange about the situation, only to suddenly realize it after trying to carry on a conversation. Mrs. Parker screams for help, and I think we’re meant to assume she pulls Mr. Ernst out his window, but maybe he just falls out. Anyway, haha, because it happened in front of the insurance guy, get it? Mr. Ernst screams for Jake, and Mr. Griggs rushes outside.
After the credits, Mr. Ernst chews Jake out for not being specific in his intentions and then using the widest possible interpretation.
Mrs. Parker is played by Barbara Lamm. This is her second of two appearances. She had previously appeared in “They’re Back” (season 4, episode 01) as an unnamed guest (the one that complained to Melody after Lonnie made her uncomfortable), which might as well be the same character.
Mr. Parker is played by Charles DiPinto. This is his second of two appearances. He had previously appeared in “The Bad Seed” (season 3, episode 12) as Mr. Hardy, the guest that tried to get Jake to splash him.
Oh, look who shows up after a three-episode absence. Work that background, Kyle.
Anyway, Mr. Ernst says he almost lost his insurance coverage over this (Jake’s stunt, not Kyle’s presence) and puts an end to Mondo Courage. Jake explains they already paid, which gets Mr. Ernst’s attention. Jake explains Mrs. Parker is afraid of heights, and Mr. Parker is afraid of Mrs. Parker. Mr. Ernst lets Jake continue as long as they aren’t more than one foot off the ground.
Mr. Griggs comes by, and Mr. Ernst covers for Jake’s stunt. Mr. Ernst sends Jake away and asks Mr. Griggs about lowering the premiums. After some back and forth, Mr. Ernst agrees to do the following by 5:00 PM today: add some more lights, some more sprinklers, and a few more fire extinguishers. However, he’ll also have to close the pool, because he has only one employee with a life-saving certificate, Melody, who’s not at the pool all of the time; if something happens when she’s not there, the lawsuit would be “terrifying”. After some more back and forth, Mr. Ernst agrees to have “all of [his] employees” pass a life-saving proficiency test by 5:00 PM. If that happens, Mr. Griggs could “swing something”: lower the premium and “possibly” keep the pool open. Mr. Griggs will be supervising the training/testing. I call bullshit on this for three reasons. First, it’s not necessary for all of the employees to be certified lifeguards, only the ones that get assigned to pool duty. I’d say four would be enough to have one person at the pool at a time during daylight hours, and not everyone would have to do a pool shift every day. Second, an insurance guy isn’t qualified to administer life-saving tests and issue certifications (unless Mr. Griggs has a background in that, which is never indicated). Third, I’m pretty sure that the insurance guy that’s working on the Bar None’s insurance premiums also administering tests with the end goal being the lowering of those premiums is a conflict of interest. But Mr. Ernst has Mr. Griggs meet him at the pool in fifteen minutes and then calls out for Melody.
At the pool, Melody wants to get started.
Brad asks Melody if she has to go in the water. Misinterpreting Brad’s dumb question, Melody says she has a special shampoo that takes the chlorine right out.
Melody has everyone line up, so she can assign partners. Kyle asks about doing mouth-to-mouth. Melody confirms it.
Cue gay panic and fighting over who gets to be Brad’s partner. Kyle ends up standing next to her, but what does the line-up order matter? Melody said she’s assigning the partners. Kyle flirts with Brad about doing mouth-to-mouth and saving Brad’s life “in more ways than one”, and I so did not miss this fuckhead.
Brad tells Kyle to get a life and pushes him into the pool. Good. Melody tells everyone to get serious.
As if on cue, Mr. Ernst shows up with a large, inflatable
alligator crocodile, which he intends to use as a flotation device (which isn’t allowed), even though it’s a standard warning to not use pool/beach toys as flotation devices.
Melody pairs Mr. Ernst with Jake. To reiterate, Melody has placed her boss in a situation where he and his nephew will perform mouth-to-mouth on each other, which I’m sure will go over well for her. Keep in mind that the girls’ bunk house contains novels written by an author that wrote graphic incestuous sex scenes.
Kyle wants Danny to trade places with him, Danny refuses, and again what does it matter?
Melody partners Jodie with Steve. Okay, so these are the names of the two extras’ characters.
Jodie seems to be one of the girls that was on the Bar None Brawlers baseball team in “Dueling Ranches” (season 3, episode 07):
…who is also the girl from “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (season 3, episode 09):
…who is also the girl from “Magnum Ernst” (season 4, episode 03):
One of the credited Brawlers girls in “Dueling Ranches” was Jodie Hurley, so this is obviously her.
Steve was also one of the Bar None Brawlers, played by Steve Johnson.
Neither actor has been credited since that episode.
Melody partners Buddy with Kyle and Brad with Danny. She gets them pumped up and takes the crocodile away from Mr. Ernst.
Before we move on to the next scene, I just want to call attention to the fact that this is nowhere near all of Mr. Ernst’s employees. Where’s Betty? Dini? Steve’s sister, Lauri? The chef (either of them)? The wranglers? LUCY?!
Melody judges Kyle’s jump.
Buddy fails to throw a life preserver into the pool.
He gets it in on the second try – but not in the way that he was supposed to.
Wait, why is Buddy participating? He’s not a staff member. Or is he? Mr. Ernst sometimes makes him do chores. Is he legally required to hire him because of that?
Melody gives Brad instructions on how to lip-lock with Danny.
Jake burps in Mr. Ernst’s face.
He claims the tuna that he ate for lunch upset his stomach, but check out that cool, confident look. I think he just didn’t want his uncle’s lips on his own.
Wow, Jodie’s got it easy. Steve’s in the pool with Kyle and Buddy, so she gets to just lay out and work on her tan.
Mr. Ernst jumps in the pool.
He pretends to be drowning.
Jodie seems to have given up on the training. She’s just hanging out at the pool at this point.
Jake is supposed to rescue his uncle, but that means putting his book and drink down.
Does no one except Mr. Ernst and Melody care about the ranch closing? Yes, I know this situation would be ridiculous in real life, but that’s what they’ve chosen to run with, so this slacking off makes it seem like most of the characters simply don’t care about their jobs.
Anyway, nice touch with the Parkers still arguing in the background.
Jake is still holding a grudge against Mr. Ernst over the burping incident (wait, what?), but Melody talks him into trying to “save” his drowning uncle, except he really doesn’t take it at all seriously. Jake’s probably not very motivated. Despite wanting to stay last season, if the Bar None closes, he simply gets to go back to sunny L.A. and his nice, empty house, where he can do as he pleases.
Melody gets Mr. Ernst to fake delirium, and he does so by calling out for his “mommy”, claiming “the big boys tied rocks to [his] feet”. I wonder if he’s drawing on actual childhood memories.
Jake argues with Melody over what to do – until finally Melody, in front of the insurance guy that’s supervising this testing and holds the future of the ranch in his hands, shoves Jake into the swimming pool:
Mr. Ernst, “pumped full of adrenaline and not thinking clearly”, shoves Jake underwater. For some reason, Mr. Ernst has to question Melody over when to let his nephew come back up. In a funny moment, Melody had forgotten Jake’s in the process of drowning and then just calmly tells Mr. Ernst to “let him up; see if he’s learned anything”. Jake demands his lawyer, and Mr. Ernst shoves him back underwater – in front of the insurance guy that holds the future of his ranch in his hands. Melody gives Mr. Ernst some pointers about life-saving, and then Mr. Ernst is the one to rescue Jake, winning Melody’s praise.
Okay, we had a shirtless David Lascher back in “Bunkmate Battle” (season 2, episode 04), so it’s time for a shirtless Joe Torres.
Danny is going to pretend to be drowning, and Brad is supposed to pretend to rescue him. He’s not very enthusiastic.
Brad offers him the pole, but “he can’t see it”, because “he’s delirious”. Danny overacts and insults Jake’s breath.
Melody gives Brad the life preserver and tells her to dive in and save Danny, but Brad gets scared and runs off.
Later, the gang comes to talk Brad back over to the pool, but she just wants to be alone, so Mr. Ernst has them clear out.
He then immediately asks Brad if she wants to talk, and she reiterates she just wants to be alone. Mr. Ernst realizes she has a fear of the water and compares it to his own fear of heights. Bullshit. See “The Competition” (season 1, episode 05), written by the same fucking writer:
Brad did learn how to swim, but she had a bad experience around that time, when she was about six. Her parents were having a party, and her Uncle Winston decided it’d be lots of fun to dangle her off the edge of the diving board and threaten to let go. His grip slipped, and she went into the pool. She had never been in the water over her head before, and she panicked. They fished her out, and she couldn’t stop crying for three days.
While Brad is telling Mr. Ernst about her childhood trauma, the rest of the gang intrudes – twice.
Brad says she understands if Mr. Ernst makes her go into the pool, knowing the importance of the insurance. Mr. Ernst says nobody is going to make her do anything. Brad breathes a sigh of relief.
Mr. Griggs comes by and is all like “Tick-tock, motherfucker.” Mr. Ernst tries to find a way around forcing Brad to go into the pool, but Mr. Griggs is like “Bitch goes in, or pool’s closed. Or just fire her ass. Whatevs.”
After the commercial break, the Parkers are still arguing. She wants him to support her in…overcoming her fear, I guess, but he can’t.
Jake’s solution is for them to walk on a bed of burning coals, claiming it’s done in fear workshops in California all of the time. He admits he’s never done it personally, but he gets the matches from Buddy. Seriously, is Jake actively trying to get the ranch shut down, or is he just really stupid?
Mr. Ernst arrives, thinking there’s gonna be a “weenie roast”. Upon learning the true purpose of the coals, he puts a stop to that shit and has Jake and Buddy clean it up.
Mr. Ernst is unsure what to do about Brad; he can’t fire her, but he can’t close the pool either. Again, why is this an issue?! Just don’t assign Brad to pool duty!
Jake decides to enroll Brad in Mondo Courage. Step 1: Desensitization:
Jake gets Brad to do this by asking her if she has another job. She doesn’t, but what does it matter? Her parents are rich. Instead, Jake should be appealing to her desire to stay here out of friendship, but Brad was ready to lose her job by chewing out Kyle, so maybe she’s not particularly attached to this place.
“I baptize you in the name of Aloysius!”
Brad finally tells Jake that she’s not afraid of the fucking water trough.
The rest of the gang has been spying on them, getting Jake mad. Jake futilely throws water at the departing “weasels”.
“Is the episode over yet?”
What the fuck? It seems Mr. Ernst’s warning of the insurance guy seeing Jake’s antics has gone unheeded.
This is part of the process to “slowly reintroduce [Brad] to the water”. Brad threatens to “reintroduce [Jake] to pain” if anybody sees her like this. Okay, that’s pretty funny. Heck, Brad gets some nice lines during this scene.
Why does she still have the damn glass?
Ha. They really are an intrusive bunch.
Mr. Ernst trips over the life preserver and knocks Brad into the pool. Almost everyone jumps in to save her. Mr. Ernst works on getting his boots off before taking the plunge.
“Fuck you guys, seriously.”
Everyone cheers Brad for swimming. Mr. Ernst declares she can take the test, and the pool is saved. Brad points out that this is the second time in her life that she nearly drowned. She apologizes for all of the trouble that she caused (which is none, but the episode is going with the victim blaming herself) and, while not explicitly quitting, goes off to pack her stuff. Melody wonders what to do.
Mr. Griggs comes by and asks for an update. He points out the pool and the lake as potential hazards.
Melody gets an idea, based on the dubious supposition that Brad is afraid of only pools, not all water.
She gives Geoffrey Coy a chance to earn his paycheck for this episode.
Later, having been informed by her friends where to find him, Brad comes by the lake to say goodbye to Kyle. Kyle claims he’s not too good about saying goodbyes and also claims he “just got here”. It hasn’t sunk in yet for Brad that’s she leaving, and she says she’ll probably realize it on the plane ride home, cry, and make a complete fool of herself. Helping Brad with her luggage, Kyle says that’s exactly why he hates saying goodbyes. Brad tries to convince Kyle (and herself) that it’s not really goodbye, and they’ll see each other, but Kyle deflates her hopes.
Brad wants to get going and takes her luggage, but Kyle asks her for a hug.
He then asks her for a kiss.
Brad initially panics but then realizes her friends have set her up. No, it’s not because they’re standing a few feet away from her, because she actually somehow manages to not notice them.
Brad calls them out, and they come out. She admits they “sucked [her] in with the weeds business”. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Jake and Buddy seem confused, and Jake sends Buddy off to get Melody.
Somehow convinced this is real and fearing Melody won’t get here in time, Brad runs into shallow water and “saves” Kyle.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of this moment from “Inmates Run the Asylum” (season 3, episode 01), written by the same fucking writer:
Anyway, let’s get this episode over with.
After he gets the kiss from Brad, he admits he was faking and asks for another one. Brad shoves him back in the lake and is hella pissed at her friends for scaring her half to death.
Mr. Griggs is convinced, and he and Mr. Ernst go off to sign the papers, so the new policy will be in effect at 5:00 PM.
The pre-credits scene at the end has Mr. Ernst climbing the windmill in an attempt to get over his fear of heights as the gang cheers him on.
As the scene fades to the closing credits, Jake tells him to come down, which worries him.
So ends another day at the Bar None.
This episode was really mixed. It’s impressive that they picked up on throwaway comments in “Battle of the Sexes” (season 1, episode 02) and “The Good, the Bad, & the Obnoxious” (season 1, episode 08) and made it the focus of an episode, but it could have been done better. The “insurance/liability” reason makes no sense. No business requires all of its employees (or even any of them) to put themselves at risk unless it’s specifically part of their jobs. The simple solution was to assign Brad to other areas, so she’d never be at the pool except on her time off (and, even then, she’d more likely be at T.R.O.T.).
As an alternative, maybe Melody leaves the pool for a bit, and Brad has to overcome her fear to save a guest at a crucial moment. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Blue Crush” (if you haven’t, shame on you; go and watch it), Kate Bosworth’s character has to deal with a similar near-drowning memory/fear. Maybe tape some flashbacks with young Brad in the family pool. In that’s cost-prohibitive, then record audio flashbacks. Either way, mix them in with, say, scenes of Brad restlessly sleeping as these childhood memories continue to haunt her. Follow her through her day as she tries to mentally brush them aside until she has no choice but to confront them.
All of that said, Kelly Brown makes of the most of the material that she’s given and is the highlight of this episode.
Countdown to the Second Coming of Ted: 2